Syrian Army backed by Russian Air Force thwarts ISIS attack on Palmyra

Syrian Army backed by Russian Air Force thwarts ISIS attack on Palmyra
The Syrian Army backed by the Russian Air Force has repelled all Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) attempts to recapture the historic city of Palmyra, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Sunday.

“Over the past night, with active Russian air support, Syrian government forces repulsed all attacks by the terrorists on Palmyra,” the ministry said in a statement.

Over 300 militants were killed in the offensive.

The militants actively used cars filled with explosives, armored vehicles, and rocket artillery. Russian aircraft carried out 64 airstrikes on militant gatherings, positions, columns, and reserves as they advanced.”

The ministry added that 11 tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, and 31 cars equipped with heavy machine guns have been destroyed.

Recaptured from IS in March 2016, the unique UNESCO heritage site in central Syria has again become a battlefield.

Earlier on Saturday, there were reports that IS militants “re-entered Palmyra” for the first time since they were ousted by Syrian and Russian forces.

The activist-run Palmyra Coordination network told AP that jihadists allegedly entered Palmyra’s northern and northwestern neighborhoods. 

On Thursday, the Syrian Army was said to have suspended active combat actions in Aleppo against Al-Nusra Front and other radical militants still controlling the area. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the evacuation of civilians was prioritized over the advance.

The Syrian government now controls 93 percent of Aleppo, the head of operations for Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant General Sergey Rudskoy, also said on Friday.

READ MORE: Russian Reconciliation Center evacuated 50,000 civilians from E. Aleppo in past 2 days – MoD

Since the beginning of the operation to liberate Aleppo, more than 78,000 civilians have been evacuated from the eastern parts of the city, with support from the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria.

“About 1,324 militants have laid down their weapons and crossed into areas of the city to surrender to Syrian government troops,” the Center for Reconciliation said in a statement on Sunday. Bomb disposal specialists have demined a total area of 24 hectares (2.6 square feet), including 162 residential blocks and 11 kilometers of roads, it added.